CLEVELAND – Quarterback Erik Meyer tossed eight touchdown passes and ran for another score to power the Spokane Shock to a 67-41 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators in an Arena Football League season opener on Sunday.
The Shock opened the first quarter with a 5-minute drive, capped off by a short touchdown pass from Meyer to wide receiver Adron Tennell.
On Cleveland’s opening possession, Gladiators QB Brian Zbydniewski was sacked and stripped of the ball by Spokane defensive lineman Marc Schiechl, giving the Shock the ball on the Cleveland 1-yard line.
Tennell scored his second TD of the game on a 1-yard run to put the Shock up 13-0.
Spokane turned a 13-6 lead after the first quarter into a 40-20 lead by halftime.
Tennell added two more TD catches, giving him four scores in the first half, and rookie receiver Kamar Jorden hauled in a pair of scoring passes to account for Spokane’s 27 second-quarter points.
Cleveland scored on a 4-yd touchdown run by fullback Derik Steiner on the opening drive of the second half to pull within 40-27.
Meyer connected with Tennell for their fourth TD of the game – a 3-yard score – and Meyer followed that with a 3-yard TD run on the Shock’s next possession to stretch their lead to 53-27 with 4 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Shock added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Schiechl took over at fullback and hauled in a 3-yard TD pass from Meyer. It was Schiechl’s first catch in his AFL career. Spokane capped its scoring when Meyer connected with Jeffrey Solomon from 4 yards out with 2:08 remaining in the game.
Meyer completed 32 of 42 passes on the day for 284 yards and eight touchdowns.
Steven Black led the Shock with nine receptions and 97 yards. Jorden finished with nine catches for 60 yards and two scores, while Tennell hauled in seven passes for 60 yards and four TDs.
James Ruffin had two quarterback sacks for the Shock. Beau Bell and Schiechl each added one.